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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #51       Copyright 1997 Bridge Communications         June 18, 1997
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    *** Editor's Note
    *** Quotes and Provocations
          Waiting for the Net to Grow up
          Toward the Great Singularity (Part 1)
          The Future of Libraries
          Postscript to `The Ultimate Worker'
    *** Financial Fictions: The View from a Bank (David Goldsteen)
          Are we losing sight of the reality behind our abstractions?
    *** Letter from Des Moines (Lowell Monke)
          Multiculturalism without People
    *** Announcements and Resources
          Global Knowledge 97 Conference -- and an alternative conference
          Humane Village Congress
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Editor's Note

    The don't-miss item in this issue is Lowell Monke's column. He again tackles the use of the Internet as a "multicultural" tool, but this time from a quite different perspective -- and pronounces himself guilty.

    Goto table of contents

    *** Quotes and Provocations

    Waiting for the Net to Grow up

    This item comes through Edupage:
    As universities jump onto the Internet 2 bandwagon, one professor who directs a university program to deliver technical courses via the Net sees disenchantment with the current Internet's flea-market-like atmosphere as a hidden motivation: "Saying that classes will be conducted on the Internet these days is like saying the classes are being offered on "The X-Files." Many universities, well aware of this distaste, would prefer to be associated with Internet 2. It's not merely a matter of bandwidth." Futurist Paul Saffo says it's just an unfortunate phase, however: "It takes time to take a raw, untamed technology and turn it into a compelling medium. All media go through adolescence; the Web happens to be going through a particularly rough one." (Scientific American Jun 97)
    Yes, I'm willing to wait for the Net to become a compelling and mature medium like, um, television. Meanwhile, has anyone bothered to tell the Secretary of Education that the Net isn't already a compelling and mature medium?

    Toward the Great Singularity (Part 1)

    In a Harper's interview (May, 1997), Jaron Lanier mentions a deep and particularly significant undercurrent of electronic culture:
    In the computer-science community, there's a perspective, which is difficult to communicate to the outside world, that things are going to continue to change in our field at such a rapid rate that